DoorDash shared its mid-year Deep Dish report that reveals popular food trends (nationally and regionally), how users ate through social distancing, cravings across the U.S. and Canada, the largest amount of money spent on a single order, and more.
The company found that its customers’ favorite cuisine was Mexican food with 40% saying they missed it the most while staying at home. Seafood was a close second at 34% and was more popular than Mexican on the West Coast.
Chicken sandwiches and fries was the most ordered item in the past six months, followed by mac and cheese, spicy shrimp tacos, make-your-own pizzas, and iced coffee.
Breakfast surged in 2020 with an increase in items such as breakfast burritos and oatmeal, as well as coffee. Interestingly, this news comes despite the fact that many fast food chains struggled with breakfast during the pandemic. For example, McDonald’s said breakfast was a weak spot, reported MarketWatch.
Wendy’s, on the other hand, experienced a year-over-year increase in breakfast-time traffic. The chain rolled out breakfast the first week of March 2020, reported Business Insider. In a call with investors, Wendy’s executives said breakfast now makes up 8% of its total sales. Breakfast’s immediate popularity helped boost same-store sales to 16% the week it launched.
DoorDash also found that people were craving comfort food over healthier options by more than 30%. By a nearly 3:1 margin, people are more likely to crave comfort food (53%) than healthier foods (18%).
It’s not surprising consumers were ordering comfort food as they were also purchasing it in stores. In March, sales of comfort food spiked, reported Bloomberg. Chocolate, ice cream, popcorn, and potato chip sales jumped for the week ending March 7, according to data tracker Nielsen. This trend also continued throughout the months.
Plant-based foods were also on the rise as meatless burgers experienced a surge with a 443% increase. Retail sales of plant-based food also outpaced total food sales during the pandemic, according to data from the Plant Based Food Association.
Regionally, East Coast favorites included iced coffee, crispy chicken sandwiches, chicken quesadillas, Caesar salads, and fried rice, while the West Coast favored breakfast burritos, pizzas, orange chicken, spicy tuna rolls, and chicken tikka masala.
The Midwest ordered oatmeal, mac and cheese, Italian beef sandwiches, potstickers, and street tacos, and the South preferred sausage biscuits, buffalo wings, nachos, ribeyes, and onion rings.
Meanwhile, more time spent cooking at home is tiring people out as 70% spent more time cooking and 33% much more time cooking. Only 7% spent less time cooking. Twenty-five percent order more food when they order takeout so they have leftovers and 47% agree that they are “tired of cooking for myself after three months of COVID-19 restrictions.”
When it comes to going back to “normal,” 88% of consumers agreed that they’re “excited for the day when I can eat restaurant food the same way I could before COVID-19.”
Range of options is an issue for consumers with 78% agreeing that “I wish I had a wider range of food options than I do when restricted due to COVID-19,” while 82% miss eating at least one type of cuisine because it is too difficult to prepare at home.
Mexican food is also the food people are most excited to eat when they resume normal restaurant routines, selected by 21%. Fifty-nine percent are also eager to order an alcoholic drink when they return to a normal restaurant routine, and margarita is the number one option, selected by 20%.
Overall, food habits changed during the pandemic. Forty-five percent of consumers have tried at least one of three select new food habits: 30% intermittent fasting; 16% foods infused with CBD; and 13% foods with collagen. Intermittent fasting is especially popular with 25- to 34-year-olds with 40% saying they’ve tried it. Twenty percent also seriously considered veganism, and 6% are or have been vegan at some point in time.